June 10, 2014 9:58 pm
Updated: June 11, 2014 12:37 pm

Tougher penalties for breaking traffic safety laws causing concern

REGINA – New laws targeting high risk driving behaviours are raising concern.

The laws come into effect June 27th, and aim to crack down on distracted driving, excessive speeding, and impaired driving.

“People need to be following the rules of the road. They need to be planning a safe ride home, putting the cellphones away, and then you have nothing to worry about,” said Kelley Brinkworth, SGI Media Relations Manager.

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Depending on driver history, and the number of previous offences, each offence can carry car seizures lasting between three to 60 days.

For instance, drivers charged with a blood alcohol content higher than .08, or refusing a breath test, will face a vehicle seizure for up to 60 days.

Drivers will face vehicle seizures for up to a week if caught driving and using their phones twice within a year.

The new rules are concerning to Jeremy Ellergodt, associate of McKercher LLP.

“Say you loan someone your vehicle or, perhaps, someone takes your vehicle without your knowledge. If they are then found to have been impaired while driving, the vehicle is seized whether that driver owns it or not,” said Ellergodt.

Ellergodt is particularly concerned about SGI’s other big change.

Drivers who blow over .08 will face an immediate license suspension until their court disposition. Ellergodt says that can take between 6 to 18 months in Saskatchewan.

“The incentive is going to be there for people to say, ‘Well, if I plead guilty now, I’ll be back on the road in 90 days,’” he said.

The Regina Police Service is welcoming the changes.

“My hope is that the possibility of facing losing your vehicle will make people rethink their driving behaviors and modify them to comply with the laws we have in effect right now,” said Regina Police Service Sgt. Ian Barr, who works in the Traffic Safety Unit.

SGI wants the changes to make people to think twice. There is also a kind of shaming component.

“If you get a license suspension, nobody really needs to know about that. But, if you go home and your wife says, ‘Where’s the car, honey?’ And: ‘Oh, gee, you know,’” said Brinkworth.

More information on the law changes can be found on SGI’s website.

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